By (01/27/2004 issue of the CACI Analyst)

A rebel attack on a Russian military convoy killed four servicemen and injured a further four on Monday as a U.N. envoy began new talks on conditions in and around the turbulent region. Local officials said the convoy was halted by a roadside explosion outside a village in the Sharoi district in western Chechnya. The soldiers died in a subsequent shootout. The attack was typical of the daily harassment to which Russia\'s estimated 60,000 servicemen are subjected despite Moscow\'s assurances that Chechnya is under its control and the \"fight against international terrorism\" is nearly complete. The Kremlin has responded to Western criticism of excesses in its campaign to crush separatists with a plan to end a decade of conflict based on a referendum entrenching Chechnya within Russia and the election of a loyal regional president. The U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland was due to launch talks in Moscow on Monday with Russia\'s Minister for Chechnya Stanislav Ilyasov. He is to visit refugee camps in regions bordering Chechnya later this week. Moscow has refused talks with any of the separatists and armed rebels reject the Kremlin peace plan. Extreme separatists have promised to press on with a campaign of bombings, many conducted in other Russian regions by suicide attackers, which killed more than 250 people last year. (Reuters)